It has been an excruciating few days – actually, few weeks. So many extremely difficult decisions that we all wish we were never faced with in a lifetime. Thank goodness I DID get that prescription for Lorazepam yesterday as yes, I’ve used it already :-)!
I met with the Oncologist yesterday, who informed me that I actually have ‘Triple Negative Breast Cancer’. She recommended to ‘start’ with a lumpectomy. Then, if you need to have a mastectomy, you can do that later. No. Not this girl. I’m not doing this twice if I can help it.
Funny, because I began this process not even considering a mastectomy – especially not a double mastectomy! When the doctor said he recommended lumpectomy I thought ‘yes!’ However, everyone I knew, who had either experienced breast cancer or knew someone close to them who had (which is almost everyone!) said “I think you should seriously consider a double mastectomy” – to which my immediate reply was “No. It’s barbaric and I cannot justify cutting off a perfectly good body part ‘just in case’. Period.” They also said “follow what the doctors recommend. If they recommend chemo, take it. If they recommend radiation, take it.” That is very hard for someone to swallow, who clued in at an early age to the unlikely coincidence that when they cut someone with cancer open – it spreads instantly. I saw it happen time after time and wondered why they weren’t figuring this out? Only recently are they admitting that, yes, perhaps that is the case and are now taking preventative measures to prevent that. Chemo and radiation, in my mind, are toxins and poisons that half kill us in hopes of keeping us alive.
I went home yesterday and did all my homework on what exactly ‘Triple Negative Breast Cancer’ entailed. It turns out that Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is defined as the absence of staining for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2. What it means is that it is far from typical and isn’t hormone driven. It represents only 10-20% of all breast cancers and it is aggressive. It can often recur in any organ, or breast and has the highest rate of recurrence during the first 3 years. Good thing I was sitting down. The good news is that it responds well to chemotherapy. Guess I’m doing that too.
Two good friends here in Peterborough have already gone through a double mastectomy and have offered their knowledge, guidance and support. I’ve since found out that three more women I know, also in Peterborough, have gone through this as well – all around the same age as me. Makes you wonder what is in the air! The good news for me is that they have all been incredibly supportive in helping to inform me of the process, what to expect every step of the way and swear they will help me through each stage. My family has been amazing as well and this has really brought us closer together. People tend to say these heartfelt things during times like this, and speak from their heart to yours – it is beautiful. My oldest sister happens to be an amazing palliative care nurse who is eager to help. My husband has been there to comfort and hold me when I break down sobbing at any given moment. My awesome friends from Panama, Canada and all over the world have continued to amaze me with their phenomenal support – I can’t say enough about how heartwarming all of the notes, chat-groups, emails, photos and videos have been. My friends who are there for me through anything and everything – I’m SO grateful – you know who I’m talking about – love you, mean it! Good thing we buy Kleenex in bulk at Costco – just sayin’!
When I went back to visit the surgeon today for my pre-op appointment I was fully armed – I had tons of statistics, loads of knowledge about TNBC, my husband in tow to support, listen, ask questions that I missed (there weren’t many, as most of you know I’m relentless with my number of questions), take notes so I would remember and I had taken my Lorazepam so that I didn’t have a heart attack in the process of this inquisition. The surgeon proceeded by saying although he had initially thought a lumpectomy would be best, he would need to ensure he got a large enough margin of tissue that could cause problems in the future. He was now leaning towards a mastectomy. I said “If you are planning on taking one, then please take both, as I never, ever want to have to go through this again.” Although it took a little convincing, he agreed – with one condition: if there were any surgical complications with the side containing the C then his full attention would be required to continue with that and there may not be time to do the second one. However, the chances of that happening were less than 5%. Deal. I strangely left my appointment feeling like I was winning – even if it was at losing both my breasts. But I will have a higher chance of living longer – and that is clearly my goal. Oh, and yes, I will be having chemo therapy after I recover from the surgery. It will be ‘dose dense’ to blast it. Eight rounds, biweekly – can’t wait :-(. We will cross the radiation bridge later.
Everything, they say, happens for a reason. In fact, I firmly believe this time for me has come for many ‘reasons’. Mainly, it is for me to get in touch with the inner me. It is time to finally look inside my soul and learn to love myself. All of the tools are clearly right in front of me. Friends have come forth offering guidance based on their own recent journeys to learning to love themselves, and changing all their thoughts to positive, happy-from-the-heart-and-soul ones. Another friend shared information regarding a Gratitude Journal that she began and how incredibly it has changed her life. My husband is a Reiki Master with a clear understanding on how to emerge from the worst difficult health situations and turn them around to be miracles by doing his ‘own personal work’ and he also happens to be a patient teacher. It is time for me to learn how to calm my mind and really learn to meditate, so that I can not only heal my racing mind but also my soul. My body is just the outer case to my soul. We grow up thinking that we just need to look good on the outside, while we ignore how broken and neglected things are on the inside. The changes that are about to take place in my life are physical, but I will need great emotional strength as well. These exterior changes will not affect who I am. I know that. Thus to answer the question in the title: “two bumps please”!